Two-hour show will focus on final round of both MPO and FPO.
October 6, 2020 by Charlie Eisenhood in News with comments
The Disc Golf Pro Tour is returning to a television near you, and this time on the Worldwide Leader.
The final round of the DGPT Championship will be featured in a two-hour show on ESPN2 that will air approximately one month following the event. ESPN2 is the fourth most-watched cable sports channel (behind ESPN, NBC Sports Network, and FS1), averaging 304,000 viewers in primetime in 2019.
The broadcast will primarily feature the competition in the “final four” in both the MPO and FPO divisions. With just one round and one card to focus on, it will also allow the Pro Tour to dive deeper into the players’ stories with interviews and features.
“We’d like to deliver an enhanced post-production, where we give more insight into the players that are competing,” said DGPT CEO Jeff Spring. “We’re focusing on the final round, but we want to make it accessible for people who haven’t seen disc golf before.”
The broadcast is expected to air the weekend on November 21st or 22nd, the weekend before Thanksgiving, in the afternoon or evening, though a final date and time will be confirmed in early November.
The new television contract was negotiated directly by the Pro Tour and will not interfere with the standard media distribution during the event: both live and post-produced coverage of the DGPT Championship will be available as normally scheduled. The DGPT is also not paying ESPN to air the event, though they are paying for the production.
Those elements contrast with the DGPT’s earlier appearance on cable television with the coverage of the Dynamic Discs Open on CBS Sports Network. Dynamic Discs and others paid for a time buy of four one-hour episodes on the network, and MPO lead card post-produced coverage from Jomez Productions was restricted by an exclusivity clause.
“We were in negotiations with CBS about the Pro Tour Championship,” said Spring. “And basically we got a contract offer from them, but we would have had to take out more of the game play because they needed a different show. And it was a time buy and there was exclusivity on game play.”
The deal with ESPN came together over the course of the season. Mahmoud Bahrani, the DGPT Media Manager that will serve as the Executive Producer on the broadcast, used to work at ESPN and helped set up the initial contact. “”One of the first things I did when I got to the [DGPT] was reach out to some of my friends at ESPN and make sure it got pitched,” he said.
“Through connections that Mahmoud has at ESPN, we got to the right person and we’ve been talking to their programming and acquisitions team,” said Spring. “Basically, they asked us where we wanted to be, asked us about the Ocho.” Disc golf had previously appeared on ESPN’s The Ocho, a celebration of “unconventional sports.” The Pro Tour demurred, asking to be featured on one of the network’s main channels. Following the Pro Tour’s appearance on CBS Sports Network, there was an increase in interest from ESPN, according to Spring. The two sides came to terms following the MVP Open.
Another difference with the CBSSN coverage — besides airing on a network with much wider reach — is that the ESPN broadcast will feature equitable coverage of both the MPO and FPO final rounds.
“I think that’s one of the most important parts of disc golf,” said Bahrani. “I think it’s one of the strongest parts of disc golf: we have the men and women competing together.”
Jomez Productions will again be leading the charge on production, though the Tour and its Disc Golf Network team will also be working with Bluefoot Entertainment, a company that specializes in producing content for delivery to ESPN and other sports platforms.
“We were so impressed with the work of JomezPro on the Dynamic Discs Open for CBS Sports. We work together so well so it was an easy decision to bring them on board to lead the production for the Tour Championship,” said Spring. Other post-production companies are expected to contribute footage as well.
The hope is to create a broadcast that can appeal both to someone who has never watched disc golf before but also to the seasoned fan.
“What was want is that if you’re a disc golfer and you love disc golf, you sit down with your non-disc golfing friend and you both get something out of it,” said Bahrani.